Mon, May 19, 2014 - Page 7 News List

MERS virus spread in US: CDC

MYSTERIOUS SPREAD:A man was infected with the virus after a business meeting with another infected man, but did not need medical treatment, officials said


US health officials reported on Saturday what appears to be the first time that a mysterious Middle East virus has spread from one person to another in the US.

The Illinois man probably picked up an infection from an Indiana man who earlier this month became the first US case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

The Illinois man, never needed medical treatment and is reported to be feeling well, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The two men met twice before the Indiana man fell ill and was hospitalized in Munster, Indiana, shortly after traveling from Saudi Arabia, where he lived and was employed as a healthcare worker.

Health officials say they think the virus spread during a 40-minute business meeting that involved no more contact than a handshake.

The new report also is not considered evidence that the virus is spreading more easily among people than previously thought, he said.

The virus is not considered to be highly contagious, and health officials believe it only spreads from person to person with close contact.

Many of those who have gotten sick in the Middle East have been family members or health care workers caring for a MERS patient.

The centers said tests completed on Friday provided evidence that the Illinois man had an infection at some point.

Since the first man’s diagnosis, health officials have been monitoring and testing anyone who was in close contact with him, including healthcare workers and household members, but none of the rest of them has tested positive for the virus.

A second US illness was confirmed last week in a 44-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who was visiting Florida.

Overall, about 600 people have had the respiratory illness, and about 175 people have died.

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